In our first session we spoke to the panelists about the reasons both systemic and cultural differences exist. In Part II of our series, we focused on identifying actions people can take to make a difference. We had an amazing panel take part in the discussion. Our moderator was Vonya Alleyne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP. Vonya serves as Vice President, Human Resources at Cox Communications. Our panelists included Dr. Ame Lambert., Vice President for Global Diversity and Inclusion at Portland State University. We were also joined by Cecil Lipscomb, Executive Director, United Black Fund of Greater Cleveland, Inc. Our panel also included Charlene Accetta, Deputy Director of Partner Engagement, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. We rounded out our extraordinary panel with Cheryl Tan, speaker, consultant, and CEO of Cheryl Tan Media.
Cheryl led powerful conversation talking about the power of storytelling and importance of creating relationships with influencers. She shared a heartwarming story of connecting someone with a current journalist because there was a story that needed to be told. Cheryl demonstrated the importance of connecting those with a story to those with a microphone.
Dr. Lambert reminded us of the importance of supporting the student voice and intentionally interrupting bias. She spoke eloquently on everyone’s ability to identify and eliminate barriers to inclusion in professional settings and with hiring practices. Dr. Lambert also evoked passion in all of us when she spoke of good intentions simply no longer being enough. She also raised awareness that young people have a purity of mission and the ability to hold their elders accountable for our inaction. She created dialogue around how we still must learn from history speaking about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s quote that “… a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear?”
Charlene prompted us to accept our responsibility as participants of change and to actively change the narrative. She spoke to us about taking small steps to drive large impacts. Charlene talked about engaging with organizations that know how to mobilize. She articulated her powerful message in practical terms explaining how supporting minority businesses and focusing on economic infrastructure are important while giving a compelling reminder of the power of our vote. Charlene spoke to being the best representation of ourselves; showing up and showing out! We were all inspired as she spoke of her work with Dr. Stacey A. Dixon, Deputy Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the barriers they have worked so hard to break down for those coming behind them.
Cecil spoke about the opportunities to create and leverage unconventional partnerships as he is doing through his organization. “Raised awareness is beautiful, increased funding is powerful”. We all understand that sustainable investment is required to correct systemic problems. You could hear a pin drop when Cecil inspirationally voiced the simple but actionable tasks we can all take showing empathy and seeing ourselves in others. We should all understand that the issues are not black versus white, but rather humane versus inhumane. Understanding the systemic practices that drive bias helps us to connect with one another and break down long standing silos in our communities and organizations.